Well, we finally know just how many people watched the shows that aired then, as Nielsen has released its first set of "live plus 7" ratings for the new season. The plus-7 ratings add people who watched a given show up to a week later to those who watched it the day it aired.
As has been the case since Nielsen started measuring DVR usage a couple years ago, shows that are popular with people in general are also popular with time-shifting viewers. The biggest gainer in terms of viewer numbers was Grey’s Anatomy, which went from 18.47 million viewers in the same-day ratings to 21.16 million in the plus-7s (it also passed its network mate Desperate Housewives in the rankings, moving up from third to second overall).
That’s about a 14.5 percent jump in total audience, which is pretty strong but not the best among the 20 shows I looked at to compare their ratings bumps. That honor goes to FOX’s new series Fringe, which improved by more than 20 percent, from 9.4 million to 11.38 million. It still lost out to CBS’ premiere of The Mentalist (16.79 million, up 8 percent from its same-day audience) in total viewers, but the gap was narrower.
The CW’s 90210 also improved by close to 20 percent, although the raw numbers — 2.94 million to 3.53 million — aren’t as impressive as some others. Other big gainers in percentage terms were NBC’s Heroes (12.02 million, up 19 percent) and The Office (10.91 million, up 17 percent) and FOX’s House (14.63 million, up 18 percent).
Number-cruncher extraordinaire James Hibberd has a handy chart of which shows gained the most in the adults 18-49 demographic that is the primary currency between networks and advertisers. As with the total-viewer numbers, 90210, Heroes and Fringe all benefited substantially in the plus-7s, as did shows like One Tree Hill, Bones and Lipstick Jungle.
On the flip side, not many people waited to watch The Simpsons, Family Guy or How I Met Your Mother; the three comedies only grew by 5 percent to 7 percent when DVR viewing was factored in. Ditto for Dancing with the Stars — the Monday, Sept. 22 premiere was the week’s most-watched show in both the same-day and plus-7 ratings, but it rose by only about 4 percent with delayed viewing.
That’s still better than NBC’s Sunday Night Football, which almost no one watched after its live airing on Sept. 28. It rose from 17.34 million to 17.35 million in the plus-7 ratings, a gain of .05 percent.
DVRs are in about 28 percent of homes now, up from 20 percent at the start of last season. That doesn’t mean everyone who has one is using it, though: As Hibberd points out, the five broadcast networks got a combined 8.8 percent ratings bounce during premiere week, compared to 8.4 percent in the same week last year. That means that even with the plus-7 numbers factored in, ratings are still off a little bit compared to last season.
Here’s a look at how the audience grew from the same-day to the plus-7 ratings for the week of Sept. 22-28:
- Dancing with the Stars (Monday): 21.34 million to 22.16 million (+3.8%)
- Grey’s Anatomy: 18.47 million to 21.16 million (+14.5%)
- NCIS: 18.03 million to 19.36 million (+7.4%)
- The Mentalist: 15.6 million to 16.79 million (+7.6%)
- House: 12.38 million to 14.63 million (+18.2%)
- Heroes: 10.09 million to 12.02 million (+19.1%)
- Law & Order: SVU: 9.68 million to 10.9 million (+12.6%)
- Fringe: 9.42 million to 11.38 million (+20.7%)
- The Office: 9.34 million to 10.91 million (+16.8%)
- How I Met Your Mother: 9.79 million to 10.44 million (+6.5%)
- The Simpsons: 9.47 million to 9.94 million (+5%)
- Family Guy: 9.09 million to 9.68 million (+6.4%)
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: 5.89 million to 6.65 million (+12.9%)
- 90210: 2.94 million to 3.53 million (+19.9%)
- Gossip Girl: 3.33 million to 3.73 million (+12%)
- Supernatural: 3.18 million to 3.62 million (+13.9%)
What are you watching as it airs? What sits on your DVR for a few days?